Vroom, Vroom, Vroom, Vroom?

I would like to start off by saying that there is nothing wrong with my car except that it is going on a decade old. Mechanically, it’s fine and even gets about the same mileage as it did the day I drove it off the lot of the now defunct Saturn dealership in Fayetteville, NC. There is some cosmetic wear and tear, not to mention that the windshield does have a crack in it that I need to get fixed, but for a ten year old car, it’s still going strong. However, I have been, just for shits-n-giggles, car shopping online, mostly at the Fiat 500L.

I don’t really need a new car; I’m not even sure that a want a new car. Perhaps more accurately, I’m not sure I want a new car payment; my Saturn Ion has been paid off for a good five years or more. Still, I know that as my Ion ages things could start to crop up and sometimes getting a new car is more cost effective than paying for repairs. As I mentioned above, I do have a cracked windshield and the seals around the other windows are warped and need to be replaced. A few days ago my driver side window got stuck all the way down for some odd reason (thankfully I was able to get it to roll back up before it started raining). Little things like that are why I’ve thought about getting a new car. The Fiat is intriguing but it’s not necessarily my only option/choice. A small pickup truck would be nice just because we do occasionally go to IKEA and have had loads of fun taking things out boxes so we could fit the individual parts into the car, but something like a Fiat would be better on gas (not that I fill up that often since I’m lucky enough to have a very short commute to work).

I can’t believe how comparatively inexpensive the Fiat is at a starting base price of only $19,195 (that’s less than I paid for my Saturn Ion 10 years ago) especially with the features that come standard on it. In brief, things like heated mirrors and seats would’ve cost extra (if they were even available in 2004) on my Ion but are apparently standard these days. Naturally, that’s the basic package of the “Pop” model of the 500L; I can drive up the price by adding things, like an automatic transmission instead of the 6-speed manual transmission (not a bad idea), or cup holders and armrests for the backseat (why the hell would I need that?).

But why Fiat? Ok, I’ll admit it; they’re kind of sexy. Just check out this TV spot:

Plus, I like the body style and, as much as I hate to say it, I’ve lost faith in American car companies.

Then there is the question of lease versus buy. Buying a car means that it’s mine after a period of time (typically five years). Leasing means that at the end of making payments for three years, I still don’t actually own the car, but have the option to buy out the remaining cost of the car. Buying would mean a smaller down payment, but higher per monthly payments while a lease would cost me less per month, but I would have to put down quite a bit more before driving off the lot. The only real advantage I see to a lease is that leasing means not (necessarily) being the one to eat the depreciation, but I can see that becoming a vicious cycle of staying on some finance company’s leash for rest of my life instead of working toward not having monthly payment anymore, like I have now.

As I said, I don’t really need a new car and there is really nothing wrong with the one I have. Still, career-wise I’m doing pretty well and I could conceivably squeeze a (reasonable) car payment into my budget. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to run out and get a new car anytime soon though.

~ JC

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